On the warpath: Tours and events remember the Battle of Brooklyn

On the warpath: Tours and events remember the Battle of Brooklyn
Old Stone House

This week will be revolutionary!

A series of tours, lectures, and festivities commemorating the Battle of Brooklyn will sweep the borough this week, as historical organizations honor the 243rd anniversary of the pivotal Revolutionary War battle that helped the Americans secure independence.

The military engagement erupted on Aug. 27, 1776 when British forces attacked American encampments in Brooklyn, in the hopes of quelling the revolutionary war before it started. As the 32,000-person British army descended on the Americans, one heroic regiment, known as the Maryland 400, fought off the closest division of the British troops, enabling the rest of the American army to escape to Manhattan. The Maryland regiment lost 256 men during the battle and the British claimed victory, but the fight was a consequential one, according to an expert.

“Even though the Americans lost the battle, they were able to escape and change the course of the Revolutionary War,” said Kim Maier, the executive director of the Old Stone House, another pivotal site during the battle.

To commemorate the feat — or defeat — the Old Stone House and other Brooklyn organizations will host a series of events all across Brooklyn this week, to reenact the battle, dive into the history of the war, and remember the lives lost.

Walk and talk

A Hunter College archeology professor will discuss the battle’s bloody history in Prospect Park, where British troops first faced off against the American rebels, during this three-hour tour through the park. Legend has it that the Americans first spotted the British army charging towards them while the Americans lounged in a watermelon patch in today’s Long Meadow.

Battle of Brooklyn Neighborhood Walk at Grand Army Plaza [Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park between Prospect Park West and Flatbush Avenue, (718) 768–3195, www.theoldstonehouse.org]. Aug. 20 at 6 p.m.; and Aug. 24 at 2 p.m. $12.

Traditional tunes

You can learn to play a traditional 18th-century percussion instrument in a “Bones workshop” from 6–6:30 p.m., before a professional string band takes over, bringing to life old songs and sea shanties from the Revolutionary era.

Exceedingly Good Song Night at Old Stone House [336 Third St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Gowanus, (718) 768-3195, www.theoldstonehouse.org]. Aug. 21, 6–8 p.m. Free

Canoe trip

On this afternoon tour, you can paddle along the Gowanus Canal to examine the escape route that allowed the American army to dodge the British army’s attack, and learn more about the waterway’s history.

Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club Boathouse [165 Second St. between Bond Street and the Gowanus Canal, (718) 243-0849, www.gowanusdredgers.org]. Aug. 21, at 6 p.m. Free.

Fierce fighters: About 400 American soldiers tried to take down a group of 2,000 British troops during the Battle of Brooklyn, creating a human barrier so that the rest of the American army could escape.
Painting by Domenick D’Andrea

Wheel history

Take a guided bike tour of Washington’s march from the Old Stone House in Park Slope to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Old Stone House (336 Third St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Gowanus, (718) 768-3195, www.theoldstonehouse.org]. Aug. 24 at 10:30 a.m. $30.

A musical man

The concert “A/K/A Benj (Franklin’s Women)” takes Benjamin Franklin’s letters and his fictional stories, many of which star female characters, and sets them to music, with the songs accompanied by a dancer and a narrator.

“A/K/A Benj (Franklin’s Women)” at Old Stone House. Aug. 24 at 8 p.m., and Aug. 25 at 4 p.m. $15.

Back to the battle

The final day off Battle Week features a gigantic culminating event at Green-Wood Cemetery. At 10 a.m., a trolley tour will take visitors around the cemetery, showing them sites from the Revolutionary War. An hour later, history buffs dressed as Redcoats, American soldiers, and Founding Fathers will take to the field for a battle re-enactment, demonstrating Revolutionary fighting techniques with horses and smoke-spewing cannons and muskets. Finally, at 12:30 p.m., a parade will lead the re-enactors, attendees, and the Regimental Band of the United States Merchant Marine Academy to Battle Hill, where British suffered the most casualties out of any battle on Long Island, followed by a ceremony to commemorate the fallen soldiers at 1:15 p.m.

Green-Wood Cemetery [500 25th St. at Fifth Avenue in Greenwood Heights, (718) 768-7300, www.green-wood.com]. Aug. 25; 10 a.m.–1:15 p.m. Free, but registration recommended. Trolley tours $20.

Veteran’s march

Veterans and their families will march 17.76 miles from Bay Ridge to Brooklyn Heights, following the footsteps of the Revolutionary Army, and visiting historic sites along the way. Marchers will also stop at American Legion posts, and will eat a catered barbecue lunch.

Battle of Brooklyn Ruck March for Veterans and Families. Starts at John Paul Jones Park (Shore Parkway 101st St. between Fort Hamilton Parkway and Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge, www.nycveteransalliance.org). Aug. 25, 6:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. $45.

Revolutionary treatment

A historian will dive into the life of Dr. Joseph Warren, a Massachusetts patriot who played an important part in the Revolutionary War, and who enlisted Paul Revere to the cause.

“A Founding Martyr” at Brooklyn Historical Society [128 Pierrepont St. at Clinton street in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 222-4111, www.brooklynhistory.org]. Aug. 27 at 6:30 p.m. $10.

Boom!: Soldiers from the British army, known as “Red Coats,” will face off against the Continental army during a Battle of Brooklyn re-enactment on Aug. 25.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams